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​Mangawhai ratepayers get their day in Court


rates crowd at court 2(copy)Nearly one hundred Mangawhai Residents and Ratepayers Association members turned up to the High Court at Whangarei on Friday August 16 as they push for a judicial review against the Kaipara District Council.
The court action stems from the cost of Mangawhai’s EcoCare Wastewater scheme, which has created huge council debts and increased rates.

Many ratepayers say they are fed up having to pay for the scheme.

Ironically, the cost of the council's defence is coming out of ratepayer pockets as well.

Lawyer for the Kaipara District Council, David Goddard QC, says they're seeking to strike out the Association's judicial review, in order to allow the Local Bill to pass through Parliament.

The Bill, which seeks to validate the council's actions, has already passed its first reading.

Kaipara's commissioners say the controversial wastewater scheme is not a matter for the courts to resolve, and too much water has passed under the bridge since the controversial wastewater scheme.

Lawyer David Goddard says it’s for parliament to handle, and it's what a Local Bill is aimed to do.

He says there have been steps taken to hold the previous council responsible, which includes kicking those councillors out and calling in the commissioners to take over.

Mr Goddard says the council's financial obligations had to come from somewhere, and that's why it's led to a hike in rates.

The Mangawhai Residents and Ratepayers Association say it's not what happened as a direct result of the costly wastewater scheme, but what to do about it now.

The Association's lawyer, Dr Matthew Palmer, told the High Court at Whangarei their main focus is to seek relief, and to quit the delays in resolving matters.

He says it's extraordinary that a local authority claims to be at a disadvantage over the decisions they've made, when a voluntary association of ratepayers are the ones who are bearing the heavy burden.

Council lawyer, David Goddard, says there is no point in a judicial review when there's already a Local Bill at the select committee stage, and the Auditor-General is conducting an ongoing inquiry.

A hearing date is yet to be set.
By Carla Penman

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